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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAmelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter XI
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Amelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter XI Post by :NiallR Category :Long Stories Author :Henry Fielding Date :January 2011 Read :1584

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Amelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter XI

Chapter XI - In which Mr. Booth relates his return to England.

"Nothing remarkable, as I remember, happened during our stay at Paris,
which we left soon after and came to London. Here we rested only two
days, and then, taking leave of our fellow-travellers, we set out for
Wiltshire, my wife being so impatient to see the child which she had
left behind her, that the child she carried with her was almost killed
with the fatigue of the journey.

"We arrived at our inn late in the evening. Amelia, though she had no
great reason to be pleased with any part of her sister's behaviour,
resolved to behave to her as if nothing wrong had ever happened. She
therefore sent a kind note to her the moment of our arrival, giving
her her option, whether she would come to us at the inn, or whether we
should that evening wait on her. The servant, after waiting an hour,
brought us an answer, excusing her from coming to us so late, as she
was disordered with a cold, and desiring my wife by no means to think
of venturing out after the fatigue of her journey; saying, she would,
on that account, defer the great pleasure of seeing her till the
morning, without taking any more notice of your humble servant than if
no such person had been in the world, though I had very civilly sent
my compliments to her. I should not mention this trifle, if it was not
to shew you the nature of the woman, and that it will be a kind of key
to her future conduct.

"When the servant returned, the good doctor, who had been with us
almost all the time of his absence, hurried us away to his house,
where we presently found a supper and a bed prepared for us. My wife
was eagerly desirous to see her child that night; but the doctor would
not suffer it; and, as he was at nurse at a distant part of the town,
and the doctor assured her he had seen him in perfect health that
evening, she suffered herself at last to be dissuaded.

"We spent that evening in the most agreeable manner; for the doctor's
wit and humour, joined to the highest chearfulness and good nature,
made him the most agreeable companion in the world: and he was now in
the highest spirits, which he was pleased to place to our account. We
sat together to a very late hour; for so excellent is my wife's
constitution, that she declared she was scarce sensible of any fatigue
from her late journeys.

"Amelia slept not a wink all night, and in the morning early the
doctor accompanied us to the little infant. The transports we felt on
this occasion were really enchanting, nor can any but a fond parent
conceive, I am certain, the least idea of them. Our imaginations
suggested a hundred agreeable circumstances, none of which had,
perhaps, any foundation. We made words and meaning out of every sound,
and in every feature found out some resemblance to my Amelia, as she
did to me.

"But I ask your pardon for dwelling on such incidents, and will
proceed to scenes which, to most persons, will be more entertaining.

"We went hence to pay a visit to Miss Harris, whose reception of us
was, I think, truly ridiculous; and, as you know the lady, I will
endeavour to describe it particularly. At our first arrival we were
ushered into a parlour, where we were suffered to wait almost an hour.
At length the lady of the house appeared in deep mourning, with a
face, if possible, more dismal than her dress, in which, however,
there was every appearance of art. Her features were indeed skrewed up
to the very height of grief. With this face, and in the most solemn
gait, she approached Amelia, and coldly saluted her. After which she
made me a very distant formal courtesy, and we all sat down. A short
silence now ensued, which Miss Harris at length broke with a deep
sigh, and said, 'Sister, here is a great alteration in this place
since you saw it last; Heaven hath been pleased to take my poor mother
to itself.'--(Here she wiped her eyes, and then continued.)--'I hope I
know my duty, and have learned a proper resignation to the divine
will; but something is to be allowed to grief for the best of mothers;
for so she was to us both; and if at last she made any distinction,
she must have had her reasons for so doing. I am sure I can truly say
I never wished, much less desired it.' The tears now stood in poor
Amelia's eyes; indeed, she had paid too many already for the memory of
so unnatural a parent. She answered, with the sweetness of an angel,
that she was far from blaming her sister's emotions on so tender an
occasion; that she heartily joined with her in her grief; for that
nothing which her mother had done in the latter part of her life could
efface the remembrance of that tenderness which she had formerly shewn
her. Her sister caught hold of the word efface, and rung the changes
upon it.--'Efface!' cried she, 'O Miss Emily (for you must not expect
me to repeat names that will be for ever odious), I wish indeed
everything could be effaced.--Effaced! O that that was possible! we
might then have still enjoyed my poor mother; for I am convinced she
never recovered her grief on a certain occasion.'--Thus she ran on,
and, after many bitter strokes upon her sister, at last directly
charged her mother's death on my marriage with Amelia. I could be
silent then no longer. I reminded her of the perfect reconciliation
between us before my departure, and the great fondness which she
expressed for me; nor could I help saying, in very plain terms, that
if she had ever changed her opinion of me, as I was not conscious of
having deserved such a change by my own behaviour, I was well
convinced to whose good offices I owed it. Guilt hath very quick ears
to an accusation. Miss Harris immediately answered to the charge. She
said, such suspicions were no more than she expected; that they were
of a piece with every other part of my conduct, and gave her one
consolation, that they served to account for her sister Emily's
unkindness, as well to herself as to her poor deceased mother, and in
some measure lessened the guilt of it with regard to her, since it was
not easy to know how far a woman is in the power of her husband. My
dear Amelia reddened at this reflection on me, and begged her sister
to name any single instance of unkindness or disrespect in which she
had ever offended. To this the other answered (I am sure I repeat her
words, though I cannot mimic either the voice or air with which they
were spoken)--'Pray, Miss Emily, which is to be the judge, yourself or
that gentleman? I remember the time when I could have trusted to your
judgment in any affair; but you are now no longer mistress of
yourself, and are not answerable for your actions. Indeed, it is my
constant prayer that your actions may not be imputed to you. It was
the constant prayer of that blessed woman, my dear mother, who is now
a saint above; a saint whose name I can never mention without a tear,
though I find you can hear it without one. I cannot help observing
some concern on so melancholy an occasion; it seems due to decency;
but, perhaps (for I always wish to excuse you) you are forbid to cry.'
The idea of being bid or forbid to cry struck so strongly on my fancy,
that indignation only could have prevented me from laughing. But my
narrative, I am afraid, begins to grow tedious. In short, after
hearing, for near an hour, every malicious insinuation which a fertile
genius could invent, we took our leave, and separated as persons who
would never willingly meet again.

"The next morning after this interview Amelia received a long letter
from Miss Harris; in which, after many bitter invectives against me,
she excused her mother, alledging that she had been driven to do as
she did in order to prevent Amelia's ruin, if her fortune had fallen
into my hands. She likewise very remotely hinted that she would be
only a trustee for her sister's children, and told her that on one
condition only she would consent to live with her as a sister. This
was, if she could by any means be separated from that man, as she was
pleased to call me, who had caused so much mischief in the family.

"I was so enraged at this usage, that, had not Amelia intervened, I
believe I should have applied to a magistrate for a search-warrant for
that picture, which there was so much reason to suspect she had
stolen; and which I am convinced, upon a search, we should have found
in her possession."

"Nay, it is possible enough," cries Miss Matthews; "for I believe
there is no wickedness of which the lady is not capable."

"This agreeable letter was succeeded by another of the like
comfortable kind, which informed me that the company in which I was,
being an additional one raised in the beginning of the war, was
reduced; so that I was now a lieutenant on half-pay.

"Whilst we were meditating on our present situation the good doctor
came to us. When we related to him the manner in which my sister had
treated us, he cried out, 'Poor soul! I pity her heartily;' for this
is the severest resentment he ever expresses; indeed, I have often
heard him say that a wicked soul is the greatest object of compassion
in the world."--A sentiment which we shall leave the reader a little
time to digest.

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Amelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter XII Amelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter XII

Amelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter XII
Chapter XII - In which Mr. Booth concludes his story."The next day the doctor set out for his parsonage, which was aboutthirty miles distant, whither Amelia and myself accompanied him, andwhere we stayed with him all the time of his residence there, beingalmost three months."The situation of the parish under my good friend's care is verypleasant. It is placed among meadows, washed by a clear trout-stream,and flanked on both sides with downs. His house, indeed, would notmuch attract the admiration of the virtuoso. He built it himself, andit is remarkable only for its plainness; with which the furniture sowell agrees, that

Amelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter X Amelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter X

Amelia - Volume I - BOOK III - Chapter X
Chapter X - Containing a letter of a very curious kind."The major's wound," continued Booth, "was really as slight as hebelieved it; so that in a very few days he was perfectly well; nor wasBagillard, though run through the body, long apprehending to be in anydanger of his life. The major then took me aside, and, wishing meheartily joy of Bagillard's recovery, told me I should now, by thegift (as it were) of Heaven, have an opportunity of doing myselfjustice. I answered I could not think of any such thing; for that whenI imagined he was on his death-bed I had